Eight Ways to Prevent Skin Cancer
The deadliest form of skin cancer, malignant melanoma, kills one person nearly every hour in the United States. For unknown reasons, the diagnosis of melanoma has been steadily rising, from 5.7 per 100,000 people in 1973 to 13.8 in 1996 (the most recent statistic). Melanoma is expected to be diagnosed in about 47,400 people and will claim 7,700 lives in 2000, according to the American Cancer Society.
Eight Ways To Prevent Skin Cancer
The good news is that skin cancer, including melanoma, is largely preventable.
The American Academy of Dermatology recommends the following precautions to reduce your changes of developing skin cancer:
- Minimize sun exposure, especially during the peak sun hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when the sun’s rays are the most intense.
- Apply a sunscreen liberally and frequently, and reapply every two hours when working, playing or exercising outdoors, even on cloudy days. Sunscreens with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 are recommended.
- Wear appropriate clothing during prolonged periods in the sun, including a hat, long-sleeved shirt and pants.
- Beware of reflective surfaces. Sand, snow, concrete and water can reflect up to 85 percent of the sun’s damaging rays.
- Avoid tanning salons and sunlamps since the ultraviolet rays emitted by these artificial sources are similar to those in sunlight and can cause sunburn, premature aging and increased risk of skin cancer.
- Protect children by keeping them out of the sun or minimizing sun exposure and applying sunscreens beginning at six months of age.
- Teach children and teenagers sun protection, since sun exposure damage accumulates over the course of a lifetime. One severe childhood or adolescent sunburn doubles the risk of developing skin cancer.
- Examine your and your children’s skin regularly for any changes in moles, freckles, or skin discoloration.
The best way to beat melanoma is to detect it early. Early detection is critical, since melanoma can spread to other parts of the body quickly. You should periodically check your body and your child’s body for the danger signs (described below).
- Examine the front and back of your body in the mirror, then your right and left sides with arms raised.
- Bend your elbows and look carefully at your forearms, upper arms, underarms, and palms.
- Look at the backs of your legs and feet — including spaces between your toes and the soles of your feet.
- With a hand mirror, examine the back of your neck and your scalp; part your hair for a closer look.
- Check your back and buttocks with a hand mirror.
What you are checking for are unusual-looking moles or other pigmented spots, especially changes in them, or the appearance of new growths. You should learn to recognize changes in skin growths or the appearance of new growths. Melanomas often start as small, mole-like growths that increase in size and change color.
A simple ABCD rule outlines the warning signs:
|A||Asymmetry. One half of the mole is different from the other.|
|B||Border irregularity. Edges are irregular¾ ragged, blurred or notched|
|C||Color. The color varies from one area to another with shades of tan, brown, black, and sometimes white, red, or blue.|
|D||Diameter. Width is greater than six millimeters¾ about the size of a pencil eraser. Also look for an increase in the size of a mole.|
There is an excellent chance for cure, if an early melanoma is promptly removed. It is sometimes necessary to remove nearby lymph nodes as well. Advanced cases of melanoma are treated with radiation therapy, chemotherapy or immunotherapy.
Healthy Living Article List
|For Women||For Seniors||Fighting Cancer||Your Heart||Emergency 101|
|Work Smart||Bones, Muscles and Joints||Nutrition News||Advice From Our Docs|